The Opening Serve: The Bulldogs will try to continue their torrid start to the 2008 season this weekend when they hit the road for the first time in Horizon League play. Butler heads to Milwaukee on Friday (Sept. 26) for an 8:00 p.m. ET match with the Panthers before moving on to Green Bay on Saturday (Sept. 27) for a 5:00 p.m. bout against the Phoenix.
Butler Volleyball Online: Live statistics for both of the Bulldogs' matches this weekend are available through Gametracker by clicking the link next to the appropriate match on the schedule at www.ButlerSports.com. Butler's contest against Green Bay will also feature streaming video coverage through the Horizon League Network and can be accessed by clicking the "Watch on HLN" link on the schedule.
A Good Start: The Bulldogs are off to one of the best starts in program history. Butler's 11-2 record is the program's best mark through 13 matches since the 1997 squad opened up at 12-1. Additionally, the Bulldogs' 11 victories are the third-most wins with two losses in program history, behind only the 1997 team (15-2) and the 1988 squad (12-2).
All Good Streaks Must Come To An End: Butler's nine-match winning streak came to an end when IUPUI handed the Bulldogs a 3-2 defeat on Sept. 16. The streak was the program's longest since the 1997 season when the Bulldogs opened the year with 11 wins in a row. The 1986 squad set the school record with 15 straight victories.
Anatomy Of A Winning Streak: It should come as no surprise that Butler's nine-match winning streak featured some impressive statistics. During the trek, the Bulldogs fell in only six of 33 sets while delivering sweeps in four contests. Additionally, Butler held a commanding edge in both offense and defense, out-hitting its opponents .256 to .122 and registering 2.80 blocks per set to its foes' 1.15 per set. The Bulldogs also picked up tournament championships in both the Kennesaw State Owls Challenge and in the Buffalo Ramada Invitational.
A Look At This Week's Opponents: Milwaukee enters the weekend with an 8-4 overall record and a 1-0 mark in Horizon League play after dropping a 3-1 match against Oregon State on Sept. 21. Prior to that, the Panthers had won three straight, including a 3-1 victory over league foe Wright State. The Bulldogs trail UWM, 10-24, in the all-time series. Green Bay, meanwhile, touts a 4-7 overall mark and an 0-1 record in league play after falling in a four-set bout to the Raiders on Sept. 20. The Phoenix will host Valparaiso on Friday (Sept. 26) before taking on the Bulldogs on Saturday (Sept. 27). Butler holds a commanding 24-6 advantage over Green Bay all-time.
Last Week's Results:
IUPUI 3, Butler 2 - Tuesday, Sept. 16 - Indianapolis, Ind.
Porshia Allen and Jessica Wolfe tallied their fourth double-doubles of the season, but the Bulldogs came up on the short end of the scoreboard for just the second time in 2008, as visiting IUPUI scrapped to a 25-27, 25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 15-10 decision at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sept. 16. Butler out-hit the Jaguars in the match, .207 to .182, but IUPUI registered 68 kills and 104 digs in the bout -- both opponent season-highs -- en route to a closely-contested five-set win. Wolfe finished with a season-high 20 kills and added 17 digs for her fourth double-double of the year, while Allen added 13 kills and 13 digs for her fourth double-double.
Butler 3, Valparaiso 0 - Friday, Sept. 19 - Indianapolis,
Butler used a strong offensive performance in the early going before relying on a stifling defensive performance down the stretch in notching a 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 victory over Valparaiso in both squads Horizon League opener on Sept. 19 evening at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler finished with 11 blocks in the match - including six in the final set of the night - while out-hitting Valpo .190 to .144. Porshia Allen led the way on offense with 13 kills, while Jessica Wolfe hit a team-best .407 and added 11 kills. Melody Austin finished with a career-best eight block assists in the match, while Wolfe's six tied her personal best.
Blocking Trend: The Butler blocking corps has shined in the early going, as the Bulldogs have notched double-figure blocking totals in seven of 13 matches this year, including nine or more in the last six and a season-high 14 against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Butler In The League Rankings: Butler finds itself ranked at the top of the Horizon League standings not only in wins and losses but also in three statistical categories. The Bulldogs lead the league with a .242 hitting percentage as a team and also hold a league-low .148 opponent hitting percentage. The Butler blocking corps ranks as the best in the conference as well with 2.55 blocks per set. The Bulldogs also rank second in the league with 13.02 kills and third with 11.65 assists.
A Wolfe Among Bulldogs: Sophomore outside hitter Jessica Wolfe has been the Bulldogs' leading offensive threat this season. Her 3.56 kills per set pace the team and are the third-most among all Horizon League players. Additionally, she ranks third with 3.97 points per set and is the only player in the top-10 not in her junior or senior season.
Block Party: It should come as no surprise that the Bulldogs lead the league in blocks because they have some of the best middle blockers in the conference. In fact, three of the top six blockers in the league play for Butler, with Jalesa Lee ranking second at 1.15 blocks per set, Porshia Allen in fourth with 1.11 per set and Maureen Bamiro sixth with 1.00 per set.
Her Own Party: She may not show up the league rankings, but sophomore Melody Austin has put up some impressive blocking numbers this season. The New Orleans native have averaged 1.00 blocks per set this season thanks in large part to her eight block assists against Valparaiso, but she does not qualify for the league standings because she has not played in the required 50 percent of the Bulldogs' games. If she did meet the minimum, she would be tied for sixth in the league.
Offensive-Minded Setter: Dana Daprile has quite a knack for helping her teammates register kills, as the senior setter ranks third in the Horizon League with 8.81 assists per set. But she isn't afraid to take matters into her own hands either, and has had a lot of success as well. Daprile currently ranks third in the conference with a .286 hitting percentage (70-22-168).
Double-Trouble: Four Butler players have registered double-doubles on the year. Junior Porshia Allen and sophomore Jessica Wolfe have each notched four double-doubles with kills and digs, while sophomore Kelsey Labrum has added two. Senior Dana Daprile, meanwhile, boasts one with assists and digs.
Lee Earns League Honor: After leading the Bulldogs with 1.62 blocks per set and notching a career-high for blocks in a match, sophomore Jalesa Lee was named the Horizon League's Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 15. Following a four-block performance against Indiana State on Sept. 9, Lee went for a career-best 10 block assists in the first match of the Buffalo Ramada Invitational against Maryland-Eastern Shore. In the final two bouts of the tournament against Maine and the host Bulls, she registered six total blocks in each match to help Butler to the tournament championship. Lee is the first Butler player to earn a weekly honor from the league this season.
Next Up: The Bulldogs return to Indianapolis
next weekend when they host Youngstown State on Friday, Oct. 3,
beginning at 7:00 p.m. Butler then welcomes Cleveland State to
Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Oct. 4, for a 4:00 p.m. bout.